Wednesday, January 30, 2013

THE NRA RED HERRING STRATEGY

If you listen to or read the statements of the NRA, you will understand their strategy to kill (oops) any meaningful gun control legislation. The NRA has two major "solutions" to the problem of gun deaths in this country: 1) put armed guards at every school in the country, and 2) swiftly prosecute and punish criminals. This is a red herring, and I will explain why.

1. Put armed guards at every school.  The death toll at Sandyhook School in Newtown was 20 children and 8 adults. This was a tragic event, and a national trauma. But these were not the only people, or children, killed by guns in the USA. In the 1 1/2 months since the killings in Newtown on December 14, 2012, at least 1,440 people have been killed by guns, including at least 23 children and 81 teenagers. This killing by gun will continue day after day, week after week, month after month until somewhere around 15,000 to 30,000 people are dead within 1 year of the Newtown killings. Putting armed guards at schools will not save any of these people; the only possibility that they would be saved under this NRA plan is if every person in the United States has an armed bodyguard with them at all times.

Putting armed guards at every school might possibly and partially address a very specific type of incident, but this "solution" ignores the larger problem of the gun death epidemic.

2. Prosecute and punish criminals.  The NRA would have us believe that only criminals are responsible for deaths by gun. Well, in most cases, this is correct - BUT only in the sense that once someone has pulled the trigger and killed another person, they are then a criminal. The vast majority of gun deaths in the USA are not committed by criminals; these deaths are the result of an argument, a fight, a domestic dispute, a suicide, or "just playing around." Yes, there are many gun deaths perpetrated by criminals, but if you study the available data, these are not the majority.

Most gun deaths are caused by the NRA's "law abiding gun owner." The problem is that human emotion and guns don't mix well. Neither do alcohol and guns, nor depression and guns. Most gun deaths are a result of a gun being conveniently located when something goes wrong, not the deliberate acts of criminals.

There is at least one other fish on the NRA plate of red herrings; mental illness. The NRA would also have us believe that if we did something with all the mentally ill people, gun deaths wouldn't happen. One problem with this is the fact that the NRA also is fighting to keep people's medical and mental health records out of the hands of the authorities. Yes, we need to do a much better job serving the needs of the mentally ill, but that is not the problem behind the gun death epidemic.

So let's not be fooled by the Red Herring Strategy of the National Rifle Association. They want us all to ignore the real problem in this country - there are already way too many guns in the hands of civilians. This includes all kinds of guns. And the data clearly show us that handguns are the leading weapon of gun death in the USA, not assault rifles.


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